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Kitkat
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Garden Gossip

Post by Kitkat on Mon 14 May 2018 - 13:00

Now that my cats are no longer around, there's a whole new buzzing community sprung up in my little garden.
I've started a little diary to record all the comings and goings.  Here is the update so far:
(I just recently had a new shed installed down the end of the garden, as the old wooden one was on its last legs - holes in the roof where the felt had just disintegrated, and the door not shutting properly, allowing allsorts to make it their own. Through the years the old one (all 6' x 4' of it) has had its share of: robins' nest; wasps nest!; squirrel's cache; at one time a fox cub had taken over and was sleeping in the makeshift bed I had made up for the cats in there! ...  But all of that is history now and belongs to a different era.
So, on to the present goings on-in-the-garden :

6 May 2018  (This one was titled 'Shoulda known it was too good to be true'


Only yesterday I was saying to someone how peaceful it is out in the garden now, with a new harmonious atmosphere amongst the various folk that have made their home out there: (Robbie the robin; Chas & Dave, the wood pigeon wooing couple; Tit & Tat, the 2 blue tits; Blackie and Brownie, two blackbirds that come a-visiting every now and then; Maggie (the magpie) has not been around for a while now, and the thrush, being a relatively new visitor on the scene - hasn't got a name yet.

Last, but definitely not least, there's Timmy - the squirrel with attitude!

Here's what I wrote yesterday:

All niggly aches and pains today, a fallout from yesterday mowing the lawn.  First time to use the new cordless mower and I just couldn't get over how light and easy - and quick it was...  I felt absolutely fine while doing it, was such a sinch ... but must admit was pretty much knackered afterwards - and it's usually the next day to feel the brunt.  I noticed that the bird feeder was empty while out there, and can't blame the pigeons or the squirrel this time!  I decided to get a special feeder which hangs from a branch from one of the trees, so it's not so easy for the squirrel to get at it and destroy it like he has done with all the other ones.  I've even caught the greedy critter stealing the whole thing and trying to bury it in one of his 'secret' caches!!  This is a proper one that you fill with seeds and has little perches either side at the bottom, so only the lightest little things can get at it with their wings and small beaks.  The robin and 2 blackbirds and now some blue tits have been availing of it - and I even have a thrush as a visitor now.    The two pigeons (the wood pigeons that actually live in a nest in the big tree at the end of the garden) and the squirrel now have to make do with the seed droppings down on the ground.  So feeding time is a happy, harmonious activity now.  No more fighting in the queue.

Also, Maggie was the boss that kept them all under control, no jumping the queue etc ...

Well .... I just happened to look out my bedroom window a while ago - and noticed that the hanging feeder -
bit like this one -
(which is down towards the end of the garden now, near the shed, and which I had only yesterday re-filled with this time little suet meal pellets) was kind of swung to one side and was jerking a bit.  On closer examination (with me glasses on!) I could see that Timmy was hanging from a nearby branch - upside down, by his tail, the tip of which was curled around this branch - and he had managed to pull the feeder over towards him and was holding it there with one front foot and scooping and shoving the little pellets with the other one, so they would drop down on the ground. Neutral   Then he gave one quick shake to the feeder, tilting it so that more of the pellets would fall down on the ground - and immediately then climbed down from the tree and scooped them up (all the time looking around furtively!) and then scarpered off with them as fast as you could say Stop! Thief!  
Can you just credit the temerity of that tampering Timmy!  facepalm

I'm going out there in a while, once my hair has dried, see if there's anything left ....



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Re: Garden Gossip

Post by Kitkat on Mon 14 May 2018 - 13:02

'Problem-solving could be key to grey squirrels' success, study finds'

Research in UK shows invasive species bests native red squirrels in complex tasks

Grey squirrels arrived from North America in the 19th century and now outnumber reds by more than 15 to one.
Photograph: John Eveson/FLPA/Rex Shutterstock


The ability to solve problems may explain why grey squirrels are thriving at the expense of native red ones in the UK, research suggests.

Wild greys and reds were presented with an easy task (opening a transparent lid) and a difficult version (a more complex process of pushing and pulling levers) to get hazelnuts.

The two species were equally successful at the easy task, but more of the grey squirrels cracked the trickier one.

Researchers from Exeter and Edinburgh universities said this “superior behavioural flexibility” may explain the success of the greys.

Red squirrels have lived in the UK for thousands of years, but grey squirrels – which arrived from North America in the 19th century – now outnumber them by more than 15 to one.

“Many factors have been considered to explain why grey squirrels are more successful when they move into areas where red squirrels live,” said Pizza Ka Yee Chow, of Exeter’s centre for research in animal behaviour.

“These factors include disease resistance and the fact grey squirrels are bigger, but our research shows problem-solving could be another key factor for the success of greys. This might be especially important for an invasive species like grey squirrels, as they have evolved elsewhere and have to adapt to their surroundings.”
The researchers set up the tasks and observed squirrels solving them. About 91% of grey squirrels eventually solved the difficult task, compared with 62% of reds.

The study says inefficient foraging and food extraction are likely to lead to poorer fitness among red squirrels, harming their chances of reproduction – reduced breeding is known to be a major factor in the decline of the species.

“It is not yet clear whether grey squirrels are born better problem-solvers, or whether they work harder because they’re an invasive species living outside their natural environment,” said Chow.

“The current stage of our research is to look at this, and the results may give us more insight into the likely future of both species.”

The findings did offer some hope for red squirrels, as among those that succeeded at the difficult task, a few went on to solve it more quickly than greys in subsequent attempts.

The successful red squirrels were also quicker to change tactics after trying a method that did not work.
Prof Stephen Lea, also from Exeter’s research centre, added: “These results illustrate how investigating animals’ differing cognitive abilities can help us understand important issues in conservation.”

Ideally, the researchers would have studied wild squirrels living in the same area but because red squirrel numbers usually decline rapidly when grey squirrels arrive, they chose similar but separate locations.

The grey squirrels studied were in woodland around the University of Exeter’s Streatham campus, or on the campus itself, while the red squirrels were in woodland around Brodick Castle on the Isle of Arran, Scotland.

The paper, published in the journal Animal Behaviour, is entitled “A battle of wits? Problem-solving abilities in invasive eastern grey squirrels and native Eurasian red squirrels.”
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Re: Garden Gossip

Post by Kitkat on Mon 14 May 2018 - 13:04

11 May 2018

Well, it seems Maggie is still around - just doesn't come into the garden anymore.

Since a couple of days ago there's been an awful racket going on outside - the loud CAW CAW din that a crow makes ...
and yesterday, Maggie was flying frantically around the place and a huge crow swooping after her!  She (Maggie) went into the tree where Chas & Dave live - and the crow came and perched menacingly on the fence.  Some kind of a fight going on.  I know the magpie is supposed to be part of the crow family, but these two certainly don't seem to be getting on.  In fact, I think it was a raven that I saw land down on the fence; a great big ugly looking thing.  I don't like 'em - even moreso if it's making our Maggie unhappy.



I don't particularly like crows, but there's something particularly menacing about the raven.  And of course there's all sorts of superstitions that surround them:

(The Kate in this blog is not me, btw - although you could be forgiven for thinking it might be!) :
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Superstitions connected to ravens
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Re: Garden Gossip

Post by Kitkat on Mon 14 May 2018 - 13:06

14 May 2018

alien  No more sight or sound of the menacing raven, thank goodness!  Probably been given it's marching (or winging) orders by the magpie (Maggie), who has now started visiting the feeder - Maggie has now found a way to manage to get a morsel or two out of the tray of the feeder by clumsily flapping its wings in mid air (too big to land on the perches either side; it's only supposed to be for small birdies).  Saw him (or her) trying out this trick this morning.  As soon as he/she had finished, one of the pigeons, who must've been watching, decided to copy the trick - but first he had to go through this big palava of getting up near to the feeder in the first place.  (Maybe Maggie had gone by this route and that's what he was trying to copy, I don't know - didn't see that part - but watching this pigeon trying to work out his strategy was just hilarious ...).  He lives in the big (baby plum) tree right down the bottom of the garden.  I saw him come out of there, waddle across a branch that took him to the shed, plodded gingerly up the sloping roof (which is quite slippy because it's a plastic shed that's there now), got to the apex at the top and literally slid down the other side of it! Landed on the fence, walked across it till he got near to the [thorned rose bush branch! where the feeder is hanging right on the end out into the garden and not near any sort of climbing apparatus ...].  I don't know whether or not he was successful in the end - I was just laughing too much watching this comedy show - but he did do a bit of a flap for an instant right up by the feeder, then pegged it off back home  (took the plane home this time). pirat  Honestly! Those pigeons are just sooo stoopid!  Even now they still come up and hang around the place out in the yard which used to house the feeding box originally, down on the ground but under cover.  They still come up to look in there - at an empty space, and still it doesn't sink in!  They just stand there looking puzzled and disappointed and sorrowful. Rolling Eyes

Straight after that, two brand new visitors appeared, two little sparrows that I've not seen before - first perched on the fence.  Then they both decided to do a very thorough inspection of the whole garden (down on the ground) - the pair of them hopping and moving slowly together in a clockwise direction, examining every inch as they went. I have a feeling this pair will be back.  (Now what am I going to call them .. )  Spick & Span?
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Re: Garden Gossip

Post by Whiskers on Mon 14 May 2018 - 18:35

Oo I do love a bit of gossip. 

Your garden sounds a fun place to be KK.  I look forward to reading more.

What about Tweedledum and Tweedledee as names for the two sparrows?
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Re: Garden Gossip

Post by Kitkat on Tue 15 May 2018 - 20:48

@Whiskers wrote:Your garden sounds a fun place to be KK.

Not a very fun place to be today. pale I don't quite know what's going on, but earlier today I was in the kitchen and heard the most almighty racket outside - a horrendous babble of screeching CAW! CAW! CAW!! and other indecipherable screeches - it wasn't just a CAW sound ... there were some really loud kind of growling sounds ... rock It was really quite a frightening sound. Went out into the garden to see a murder of crows - must've been about 30 of them! emerging out of a tree in one of the gardens that backs off of mine (the tall tree where Maggie and her mate live) - they continued scattering and screeching loudly all over the place; it seemed to go on for an age, and it really was a very scary and disturbing sight and sound to behold. scared
Then - all of a sudden they ALL flew up into the air, still screeching and screaming, and headed off all together in the same direction. Next thing I saw the magpie, flying after them! And another magpie (obviously the mate) flew frantically across my garden, stood on the fence for a second (looking up in the direction where the crows had flown) and then soared up into the tree that the crows had just left.
What can that be all about?

Hitchcock - eat your heart out .... I don't mind admitting - it unnerved me no end.

Peaceful ever since, and they've not returned. One of the magpies has been in and got some stuff from the feeder. He (or she) did go to the top of the shed first (so that was what the pigeon was trying to copy earlier - not too successfully) - but the magpie just swooped straight from top of the shed to the feeder and flapped for a bit there, but he/she did manage to get something out of it.
The feeder is now almost empty. I will fill it up again tomorrow - I've got a bag of seeds ready to fill it with this time.

The thrush also paid a short visit today, but not to the feeder - just down on the ground, hopped about a bit, singing very loudly (a happy sound, very different from the din earlier on!)
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Re: Garden Gossip

Post by Kitkat on Thu 17 May 2018 - 19:45

Looked out the window early this morning to find Spic and Span (the 2 sparrows) doing their hoppy walk tour around the garden - exactly the same circuit as the first time I saw them. Pecking away at [something?] as they went around, side by side. Neither deviates from the side of the other; they're a definite couple.  So sweet.

Maggie has popped in today, so have Tit and Tat.  One sad, confused looking wood pigeon ... just perched up on the fence, staring into space - and the thrush dropped in while I was out there having my coffee.  (Decided to call her Trish).  She just did a walk round the garden, same as the sparrows, pecking every now and then. Maybe it's worms they're after(?)

Filled up the feeder with seeds just a couple of hours ago - and I've just now looked out the window ... it's practically empty! apart from a few grains at the bottom - the whole lot has been tipped out onto the ground below. facepalm
 
I think it'll be better to stick with the pellets in future. Rolling Eyes
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Re: Garden Gossip

Post by Kitkat on Sat 19 May 2018 - 16:33

A real hive of activity out in the garden today.  My first peep out the window on getting up early this morning: Spic and Span were doing their daily constitution, Trish the thrush was having a good old peck around also.  Blackie landed on the fence and did a quick tour around - and Tit and Tat were flitting and flatting in turn from the tree to the pile of seeds on the ground under the feeder and back again.  Robbie was there too - came right up to the window and gave me a little tweet/warble/chirp.   In the middle of all this, sitting pretty and seemingly oblivious to all the activity going on around him, sat Timmy!  Right slap bang in the middle of the seed heap, munching away.

I had a sneaky suspicion that the Spill Job yesterday might just have had something to do with Timmy, but as I hadn't actually seen it happen and didn't see any sign of him around the garden yesterday, I thought it best to give him the benefit of the doubt.  And ... looks like he's been there in that spot all day - because I've just been out in the garden to find him still sat there stuffing himself.  Didn't seem that bothered to see me either, stuffed a few more mouthfuls before casually sauntering off and climbing up into the tree, where he just sat looking down at me - with what looked very much like a nah-nah-nanah-nah-can't-catch-me look.  Cheeky little @#!!l*!

No sign of Chas or Dave (pigeons) so far today, or Maggie.
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Re: Garden Gossip

Post by Kitkat Yesterday at 18:24

That's it now. Fed up!    I'm done with this whole bird feeding business.  

Sitting in the kitchen this morning I saw magpie Maggie (or Max) walking up the path towards the door - then over to one of my flower troughs by the wall that had new seeds planted just a few weeks ago and some had already started to flower.
And s/he proceeded to root and peck away in that flower pot.   
I flew out the door and shooed him away.  He went as far as perching on the fence, then immediately down into the garden in the direction of the feeder.  Then I noticed there was another magpie walking around the garden - this had to be his or her mate.  From where I stood I could see then that the feeder was completely empty!  And all contents were down on the ground, although much of it had already disappeared.  The two pigeons (Chas & Dave) were up on the fence together - not standing stupidly & vacantly before, but sitting there looking very comfortable and full up, as if having just feasted on a banquet.   
They can ALL just go scrounge somewhere else now and mess up someone else's flowers. 
I don't even care who is the main culprit now - from what I can see they're all in it together.  (Well .. the BIGGIES anyway - squirrel and magpies and pigeons - this feeder is supposed to be for small, wild birds anyway).  That was the whole idea, moving the feeding area from the ground to a receptacle that the greedies weren't supposed to be able to get at.
They can all just FECK OFF now ... 

    Current date/time is Thu 24 May 2018 - 1:26